Mr. Ganesh is a gifted stylist, in this paragraph that seems too steeped in the present rhetorical poverty, he still manages to almost ensorcell. It is the preamble to not just a meditation on ‘Extremism’ but a homily.
Experience of trauma does not instil risk aversion as a matter of course. But having lived through the near ruin of civilisation, that cohort of westerners did not trifle with dangerous ideas after 1945. Obituaries that attribute Bush’s caution to high-born Waspery or the Episcopalian Church miss the formative effect of war.
That ‘high-born Waspery’ that Ganesh attributes to ‘others’ is not the territory that he wishes to explore. A history made to measure is the ‘sine qua non‘ of this essay.He moves his essay from porcine Robespierre Newt Gingrich: Bush The Elder is by implication the antidote to this populist. Next is this telling observation, that places the utterly discredited Freud before Shakespeare as the ‘diviners’ of human motivation.
The question is where such vigilance came from. It takes a Freud or a Shakespeare to divine human motivation.
Then the reader comes to this extended apologetic for what can only be called Bush The Elder’s unapologetically racist Willie Horton advertisement. Not having the honesty to mention it by name. Lee Atwater was its creator, and quite pointedly asked Mr. Dukakis, on his death bed for forgiveness! The words ‘foot-dragging’ , ‘tawdry’ and ‘uncharacteristic’ are the weakest form of apologetics.
That generation is already revered to the point of mawkishness. Bush should not be. A nuanced account must reckon with his initial foot-dragging on civil rights and his sometimes tawdry bid for the White House in 1988. But these trips to the darker edges of politics stand out precisely because they are uncharacteristic.
The remainder of Mr. Ganesh’s homily is devoted to the virtues of ‘Social Order’ and an ‘aversion to wild ideas’ No need to insert the name of Bush The Elder, as a model of this kind of Enlightened Centrist Politics. It a question of belief, that in the Age of Trump even Bush the Elder represents an aspiration toward the Political Good. Such is the desperation of The Midwives of Trump! While ignoring the catastrophic Foreign Policy of this ‘high-born Wasp’!